Top 5 Requested Second Life Features

I was reading something about how a small cadre of vocal power users can skew the development of a virtual world platform, and it got me thinking about the kinds of things corporate clients I’ve worked with have asked for in the past. Oddly, these are things that don’t even seem to be on anyone’s radar – and they’re not very difficult to implement either.

  1. Whiteboard: Being able to sit in a room with a bunch of other people and talk online is great, but being able to pop notes up about what people are saying and draw quick sketches (without having to learn to build please…) would be a game-changer for many people.
  2. PA System: Just being able to designate certain people as temporarily “holding the mic” would make large meetings much more feasible. Having no session controls over voice has caused a number of calamities and driven more than one client to other applications.
  3. Separate the Second Floor: People want a lobby downstairs and an office upstairs, and they want their conversations to be private in both places. This means establishing separate audio channels for areas located on top of one another –  say, one for the first floor and one for the second. The lack of functionality here means some strangely stretched out designs.
  4. Real Names: Face it: the naming convention was a cute idea in the beginning, but it just seems idiotic to corporate users. Let us use our own names over our heads.
  5. File Transfer Between Avatars: People have files. They want to share those files between each other. PDFs, PPTs, and VCFs are the most commonly requested that I hear about. Let us pass files to each other without breaking immersion and fiddling with email. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, just a simple drag/drop http transfer call would do. Integrate a little of the existing browser code with a spot on the option wheel for “Send File” and you’re good.

And no, I’m not going to the Jira and there’s no possible way I’m asking my clients to go in there. The Jira is a nice bug tracker, but that is not how an enterprise-level piece of software gets designed.

(Photo by Caleb Booker.)
(Photo by Caleb Booker.)

When this list was originally published on my blog, I received a few passionate emails from the power user base that reinforced my perception of the problem. Their comments break down as follows:

  1. Second Life was built by nerds for nerds, and shouldn’t accommodate anyone else ever.
  2. Anonymity is more important than oxygen, and should be absolutely force-fed to people.
  3. A collection of third-party applications could do what you need, which validates Second Life’s current design… somehow…
  4. Here’s a hack that sometimes works but generally doesn’t.
  5. Everyone in Second Life shares my special-interest opinion.
This is largely politics, and I’m no politician. I’ve said my piece, and have no interest in making counter-arguments to the above. All I can tell you is what I know from working with regular people trying to find a real benefit in the environment. The rest, take as you will.
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